Friday, 19 July 2013

Recipe: Fennel and Pork Hock Risotto

Carley-Jane stands in front of fennel
(the veggie that looks like celery behind the peas)
Carley-Jane serves a customer
Riverbend Gardens began bringing fennel to our market two weeks ago. Fennel is a vegetable with a mild black licorice flavour to it that, according to Jonny Bowden's The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, comes from a health-promoting compound in it called anethole. It also has quercetin, an anti-inflammatory flavonoid in it that counteracts spasms of the smooth muscle in the gut, which, in turn, helps to relieve gas and help with cramps.

One other interesting thing that he points out about fennel in this summer season of marathon race running: Fennel is the Greek name for marathon. In 490 B.C.E., the Greeks defeated the Persians in a fennel field that was exactly 26 miles and 385 yards from Athens. They sent a runner bearing the good news back home, and ever since then the length of a marathon race has remained the same distance from the fennel field into the town: 26 miles, 385 yards.

Fennel is something that I have never cooked with, so I was curious about it. When I asked Janelle about it (and clearly pressed her with too many questions!), she introduced me to Carley, a wonderful girl who works at her booth.

Carley-Jane loves to cook and has an excellent blog called Northern Urbanites. And she is very knowledgeable about the food that she brings to market. She assured me that quite often, people use fennel the way they use onions in a dish and that most often the white base is the part that is used the most. It's an easy substitution to make. And she has generously shared a wonderful recipe, developed especially with her questioning customers in mind! Thanks, Carley-Jane!

Fennel can be found at Riverbend Gardens. Both Riverbend Gardens and The Holden Colony carry carrots and onions and celery at our market. Holden Colony has wonderful fresh garlic bulbs at their booth, as of this week. Dargatz Family Farm has beautiful fresh thyme plants. And you can contact Joan at Sunworks Family Farm to order a pork hock ahead of time to be brought to market for you: or 1-877-393-3133.

fennel and pork hock risotto

Ben & Carley-Jane write... The farm where Carley-Jane works is growing fennel this year, so after many questions at the farmers’ markets (especially at the Southwest Farmers’ Market) as to how to cook this vegetable and herb, we decided to do a recipe (one of many, perhaps!). 

The fennel from Riverbend Gardens definitely adds some acidity to the risotto, which is we think creates a nice, light, summery taste to a dish that is traditionally rather heavy. It’s a great dish for those just beginning to fall in love with the taste of fennel, and is awesome to save for tomorrow’s lunch, too!
pork hock ingredients
2 Pork hocks
2 tbsp Canola oil
1 Yellow onion, roughly chopped
3 Stalks celery, roughly chopped
2 Medium carrots, peeled & roughly chopped 
1 L Pork or chicken stock
1 Bay leaf
2 Sprigs thyme
4 Peppercorns
pork hock instructions
1. Heat up oil in a pressure cooker over medium-high heat.
2. Once hot, add the onions, carrot and celery. Lightly sauté until softened.
3. Add the remaining ingredients and close the lid of the pressure cooker. Cook at 15psi/1 bar for 1.5 hours.
4. Once cooked, let the pressure naturally dissipate; do not depressurize.
5. Once cooled, open the pressure cooker, remove the hocks and all of the meat and reserve. Discard the remaining fat and skin.
6. Strain the stock and reserve in a pot over medium heat.
risotto ingredients
3 tbsp. Canola oil
½ c. Yellow onion, finely diced
1 c. Fennel bulb, finely diced
3 Cloves garlic, minced
1 c. Carnaroli rice
¾ c. White wine (we used Sandhill Pinot Gris)
1 L Reserved stock from hocks
2 Sprigs thyme, finely chopped
3 tbsp. Butter
½ c. Pecorino cheese 
Reserved pork hock
Salt & pepper
risotto instructions
1. In a pot over medium heat, add oil. Once hot, add onion and fennel.
2. Saute until softened.
3. Add garlic and rice. Stir to combine.
4. Lightly toast the rice and add white wine, continuously stirring the rice until all wine is absorbed.
5. Add 200ml of the warm stock. Stir to combine.
6. Stir the rice often until liquid is absorbed, once absorbed, add another 200ml. Repeat 3 more times.
7. After the last addition of stock, add the butter, cheese and desired amount of pork.
8. Cover with lid and set aside for 10-15 minutes.
to finish
1 Bulb fennel
½ tbsp Apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper
Fennel fronds
Reserved risotto
1. Slice fennel extremely thin (using a mandolin if you have one on hand); toss with the apple vinegar and season.
2. Stir the risotto to incorporate the butter, cheese, and pork, seasoning to taste.
3. Divide the risotto between plates and top with sliced fennel and fronds.
4. Eat immediately.
Recipe from Northern Urbanites Blog at
Visit our website at
Like us on Facebook!
Contributed by Sheri Hendsbee

No comments:

Post a Comment